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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

RyuKazuha

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"We now know the spore has been around for eons. Created and forgotten long ago, trapped on ground zero, dormant until that fatefull day a hand full of outcasts figured its grave would make for a decent hideout. They may never have realized what they did, setting foot on a desert wasteland covered in mycelium.
I'm sure they are long since dead. Consumed as everything the spore touches is. And if so I'm glad. For they won't ever know the weight of the dead resting on their shoulders."
- Saathid Coucilor Largolo

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Allconsuming flames and the stench of burning chitin. Ariola snapped awake, dry mouthed and filled with dread. She dared not close her eyes again, concentrating on her breathing to clam herself instead. She still smelled it, faintly but ever present. Her body was shaking constantly, no matter how many times she reminded herself it was just a olfactory hallucination.

"Is everything allright?" asked a disembodied male voice with audible concern. "No." she answered, realising just how tired and weak she sounded. Her eyes sought the fish tank and found it, where it was supposed to be. Six cubic meters of water filled with what precious little remained of her home.

"You've been dreaming again." the voice concluded. Ariola nodded, tried to lift her upper body to sit up. She failed, slumping down again just as the door slid open. Koron, the owner of the voice, entered carrying a tray with what seemed to be cups and a pitcher full of some vaguely green colored liquid. He crossed the small room in just a couple of steps and settled down beside her, filling one of the cups.
Ariola followed his every move with her eyes and allowed him to guide one of her feeding tendrils to the cup. She was to weak to protest and the presence of her mate provided much needed comfort.
"You have not asked permission to enter my room." she reprimanded him, after emptying the cup and motioned for him to refill it. She was glad he hadn't, for she wouldn't have known wether to allow him in or keep im out as to not show her weakness, but he was a male, so she couldn't let it slip. Not even now.

"I would rather risk your wrath, then your demise." Koron answered, showing what could be called a sheepish grin. "Your daughters shall not hear I let their dear mother starve in her bed." He refilled the cup. "May I share your meal?"
Ariola forced one of her haptic tendrils to rise and entangle with Korons, the male gave hers a little squeeze so as to reassure her of his continued presence. "You may."
Koron poured himself a portion of the liquid into the second cup and began to drink as well. Form some time, they both remained silent.

"I'm afraid." Ariola finally confessed. For a split second she began to regret it. It was shamefull to admit to fear, especially in front of the male she was meant to protect first and foremost. She was the surpreme general of the Xanyr army and shouldn't have felt like that. "I know." he answered. There was no judgement in his voice, no sign of dissapproval or spite. "Yet you'll go fight again and again and leave the worrying to me until it is done." he added softly, his stalked eyes filled with a love so devout it hurt. "You're my Lady after all, and this is how it must be. Were it not for you, the spore would devour us whole and all the galaxy thereafter."
Ariola felt as if her carapace was shrinking, trying to suffocate her. It would be time to shed it soon. "What if i cannot be brave anymore?" she wispered. Again her mate squeezed her haptic tendril. His eyes filled with sorrow he answered "You have to. There's nowhere left to run to."
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RyuKazuha

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Welcome to my second AAR. This time I will be portraying the seemingly unstoppable force called "the Spore" and its way to consume the galaxy. Since the Spore itself is a contaminant rather then a society I'll write about it form the perspective of all those who come into contact with it, wich should make for varying angles of observation on how it might function and how to deal with it. As this is a narrative AAR, I'll be using several mods to change gameplay and somewhat stack the deck, all of wich will be listed below.

This is not an Ironmen playthrough, since trying this killed the last AAR. I'll however not revert to an earlier safe if I don't absolutely have to. If the Empires of the Galaxy mange to contain the Spore, they've earned it.

Index:
I. The Cuunbar Incident
II. Strategy
III. Ambush
IV. The First Spore War
V. Containment Act
VI. Menace
VII. Last Stand
VIII. The Third Spore War
IX. Despair
X. Alliance
XI. Day of the Fireflies
XII. Timeline of the Great Effort
XII.The Wacegi Campaign
XIII. The Last of the First
XIV. Home
XV. Believe
XVI. The Folly of the Fiiral
XVII.On the War of Twelve
XVIII. Unthinkable
XIX. The Rock and the Hard Place
XX. The Galactic War I
XXI. The Galactic War II
XXII. The Galactic War III
XXIII. The Vulture Wars
XXIV. The Galactic War IV
XXV. The Galactic War V - The Day of Thunder
XXVI. The Galactic War VI - The Scouring
XXVII. Terminus
XXVIII. Epiphany

Houserules:
The Spore will never make contact with other empires via research.
Research into galactic wildlife is permitted, but all event-chains will be resolved through violence.
The Spore will only declare war on empires touching its borders.
There are only two wargoals: Abandon Planet and Cede Planet, the latter however will only be used if a planet cannot be abandoned (usually only the last planet of the empire in question).
The Spore will allways attempt to infect abandoned worlds through colony ships.
Any pops without Collectivist Ethics will be purged no questions asked.

Mods:
Color coded pop status icons
Complete Colors
Downscaled Ships
Flags: Emblems & Backgrounds
Flexible Core Planet Cap & Resettlement Cost (Cap 999, Cost -100%)
More Events Mod
No Clustered Starts
Remove stranded foreign stations

Setup:
Large 2 Arm Spiral Galaxy
23 Advanced Start AIs
Normal Difficulty
High AI-Aggression

The Spore:


As the Spore will have to infect everything, Extremly Adaptive is a given (to colonize even Oceanworlds with negative Habitability-Modifier). Repugnant is kind of a no brainer for a vile contaminant and Sedentary has no notable consequence neither positive nor negative in this build, so it was used to set off the cost of X-Adaptive (It however means I'll pay some influence to resettle even with the -100%-Modifier provided by the mod).

Collectivist is primarily used to get purges, but also plays well into the theme, while Fanatic Spiritualist is used solely for the negative ethics divergence. The Spore does not diverge, it spreads and consumes. Divine Mandate is chosen for the same reason. Leaders will be ignored as individuals even though they are of course necessary for gameplay reasons.

You may also note the flag is of course not used by the Spore, but by its victims, I mean opponents, to signify the contamination zone.
 
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The Cuunbar Incident

Upiverta Frakir stared out through the tinted window into the raging fusion fires of the Cuunbar-Pulsar. Building an Outpost so close to something this violent was a magnificient reminder of the Savix'Qast Consortiums power and collective will to reach for the stars. Behind him, dozens of scientist were crawling about, talking and sharing the newest data gleaned from the rapidly spinning star below. He heard only snippets, but allowed the general buzz to fill him with a feeling of elevation and accomplishment.

"Master Frakir?"
one of the Servants adressed him, disrupting the Station Commanders thoughts. He growled. "Speak." The servants mouth-tentacles quivered. He seemed frightened, as Upiverta rose to his full height and stretched to alleviate a slight itching below his carapaces seventh segment. "We have confirmed several xenos vessels have exited a wormhole on the systems fringe. They seem to be headed towards us." Again the Commander growled. "Wacegi?" he asked. The servant shook his head. "Their signatures match neither those of the Wacegi nor the Assembly. Judging by their position of entry, they seem to have come from the unclaimed rimward systems."
Frakirs mood had dropped by serveral body lenghts. "More Xenos-Scum?" he asked "There's nothing out in these wastes, only dry rocks and deserts.". The servant lowered his head. "It might be." he answered. "Or it's some of those malcontents again." Frakir thought out loud, starting to crawl towards the stations Central Command. "Either way, nothing coming from the wastes could do anything to this station. Inform the Admirality of our discovery. They should dispatch an expeditionary fleet. It seems they missed something 25 years ago."

Red emergence lights were the only thing they had had for days. Every little ounce of expendable energy running through into the shield generators to keep the station save from enemy fire. Several sections had already been lost. Once the enemy lasers had pierced the shields, the neutron stars radiation cooked every crewmember close by within minutes. "We're out of ammunition." the weapons officer reported, his voice belying his professional composure. "Primary Shields at 5% and falling." his colleague added. Upiverta glared at the first engineer with blatant contempt. "I gave you every ounce of energy on this station and you can't keep our shields up against some hillbilly marauders?!" he screamed.
The First Engineer rose from his console. He wasn't as big as his Commander, but certainly not afraid. "Marauders?!" he yelled "These are hardly marauders Lord Commander. This station was built to withstand the pulsar, not a fleet of ships strong enought to face the First Husk Squadron!". Upiverta now rose as well, imposing in his full height, exposing his soft underbelly as to show he did not fear his opponent. "Shut it, or I'll have you assigned a servant for the rest of your meager life!" His voice thundered through the room, soon joined by an explosion, followed by a flood of bright light and intense radiation, one of the lasers having pierced not only the shield, but the very Command Center itself.

 
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Strategy

"Lord Admiral, we received new data from the Saldropis System."
The Savix'Qast waved to his inferior so as to tell him to go on. The other quickly activated one of the monitors at the wall to summon the image of thirty four ships concentrating fire on one of the Consortiums orbital space ports. "The enemy seems to be using laser-based weaponry. Not very effective unless used en masse. The ships match none of the currently know Xenos species."
Zukir Xankikin arched forward to take a close look at the picture.
"They seem to have a pretty long range." "Indeed, if this is their usual firing position, they seem to engage at double our own effective range." The Lord Admiral wasn't happy. "Where do they come from?" he asked, crawling from his resting place towards the Officer. "We do not know. They seem to use some sort of wormhole-technology to travel." the Officer didn't seem to happy about that, and neither was his Superior. "You tell me for all we know they could just appear above the homeworld on a whim?". The officer nodded. "Yes Mylord.". "So it would be best to leave the colonies to fend for themselves and wait for them to find us..." Zukir reached for his fruit bowl to help his thoughts along with a little snack. "Any news from Cuunbar?"
The officers head sunk just a bit, before he composed himself and answered. "The patrol found only wreckage and the remains of the dead.". The admiral swallowed his snack, reaching for a new one, then hesitating. "Some of your brood where stationed there, if I remember correctly?" The officer nodded slowly. "Near half of them, ten good soldiers and the head of engineering." The Admiral sighed. "I'm sorry." "The died serving." the Officer replied.
"But they still died." The admiral chucked one of the fruits towards his underling, who caught it easily. "And many more will die. Keep me posted."

"Do you expect the High Lords to suffer your insolence Zukir?!" The Lord Admirals eyes narrowed. "I expect them to heed my counsel in military matters." he replied with barely contained anger. "If you don't know your place, you'll be counseling your fellow miners!" the Lord Voice screeched. Zukir had come to despise him for quite some time. A lickspittle who revelled in his position instead of accepting his responsability. He was supposed to convey the words of the High Lords to the Lords of the Consortium. Most of the time all he did was to insult those who knew better and poison the high lords decisions with his ill-informed opinions.
"If the High Lords wish for me to counsel the miners, there's no shame in doing so. But as of now, I'm tasked to lead the Husk Squadrons." he sneered at the other.
The Lord Voice seemed to think he had asserted his "authority" enough, his face tentacles twitching smuggly. "You will move to Borrbo and engage the enemy. Put these Xenos to their rightfull place. As is the will of the High Lords."
With these words, the transmission was terminated. Zukir was left alone in his chamber, filled with anger. But their was another feeling below that. An emotion he had denied his entire life and wich would only surge up at certain times. An existential dread, telling him to run and hide under some rock like his distant ancestors. Of course he had never given in to this feeling. But everytime he chose to ignored it, he had regrettet it dearly and paid the price. Rising from his resting place, he chose to ignore it.

As the fleet emerged into the Borrbo Systems gravity well, the Lord Admiral expected to see the enemy ships bombarding the Colony, as the had been doing as the first Husk Squadron had entered FTL. In transit there was of course no way to receive any data, as FTL Sensors did not penetrate the Warpbubbles surrounding the fleet. The enemy did not bombard the colony. "High Lords..."

 
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Ambush

They'd been waiting. Zukir felt a shiver run down his plated back. "Shields!" Blue tinted beams erupted from the enemy fleet, slamming into the protective fields of the First Husk Squadron.
The navigator screamed "We're trapped." thereby telling nobody on the bridge anything new. After warping, the ships had to dissipate the excess heat, unable to fire engines or weapons as to not cook the crew inside. The deflector shields could be run at least, providing the ships with some passive defenses.
Zukir made a point in leaning back with fake confidence. "Sciences, get me as much data as possible. Comms, tell the fleet to scatter, maneuvering thrusters only. Weapons, prepare to concentrate fire on the closest ship." Routine would save the, the Lord Admiral thought. If anything, he had to keep his underlings in the mental state of soldiers, rather then scared bugs.

"Sciences?" The Savix'Qast at the Science station seemed to be mostly calm. His name was Garan and to the Lord Admiral he had allways seemed a bit strange, caught up in his research all the time. He had even been on trial for supposed xenophilia once. Right now he seemed to be in his element, studying the alien fleet and it's behaviours.
"The enemy fleet consists of 35 ships armed with medium and small lasers. They do used deflectors, but very primitive variants. As far as I can see, their hulls are not armored and they use simple fusion drives supplemented by fission reactors and chemical thrusters." Garan replied. "We don't pick up any communications and their attack patterns are erratic. It's like they do not coordinate. At least not in the traditional sense. More like a swarm."

Zukir studied the tactical interface while listening to his officers explanations. The enemy was highly aggressive, closing in continuously instead of keeping their distance. "Auxillary power to the shields." he ordered. "Comms, a channel to all ships." "Rerouting Auxillary power." "Channel open." The initial shock of the ambush had worn of, but the fleet was still incabable to mount an offensive due to warp winddown. The screen filled with the faces of his Captains, 28 of them, each commanding a corvette built to the highst technical standards of the Consortium. "This is Lord Admiral Xankikin speaking. The enemy is eager to get close, so we'll let them. Spread into Gamma pattern, prepare to concentrate fire on the closest ships. AC and Plasma, everything we've got, and make sure not to hit our own. We cannot allow the enemy to pass, you keep your ship fighting no matter what. Get your crew into suits, we'll pick up floaters after the battle is over.".

The wait was agonizing. Slowly but surely the enemy stripped away the shields. At least the did as predicted, weaving into the lines of the 1st Husk Squadron, well into range for the autocannons. "We're good." the Chief Engineer finally reported. Zukirs face tentacels twitched eagerly. "Give them hell."
As the hull began to vibrate under the heavy autocannons fire, and the high pitched shriek of the plasma thromer discharging cut through the ship, Zukir felt at peace. If he was to go down, it would be as Gladiator, not a sacrifice. But he had no illusions about the situation. Most of the ships had lost all shields and the enemy had more ships, but he reckoned superior technology would allow them to fight to a draw.



It did not. It quickly became apparent, that the enemy was quite capable to concentrate fire once a target was sufficiently damaged to be destroyed within a few salvoes and proved skilled at evading the Husks fire.

While the 1st Husk Squadron scored two kills, it's numbers had been halved but the enemy onslaught. As the Enemy had shown use of whormholes, escaping them would be impossible. "Comms. All hands are to abandon post. Leave the weapons to the AI, take the shuttles and get yourselves to the homeworld." ordered the Admiral, making no move to indicate he intended to to the same. There was a slight pause, the Officers looking at each other. "Comms!" the Admiral barked. "N-no..." Zukir rose up to his full statue. "What did you say, soldier?" he asked, glaring at the other. "No, Sir! I refuse to relay this order. Moreso I refuse to abandon post in face of the enemy! We'll die serving!" "We'll die serving!" echoed the other officers.

Zukir sighed. >But you'll still die.< he thought.





"The End of the Savix'Qast Consortium was the first time the spore entered a phase of major expansion. Infection spread to all of the Consortiums major Planets within a few years after the state had collapsed under it's onslaught and new sporocarp drones grew within the abandoned colonies. But it would still be twenty years until the wider Galaxy would learn of the Contamination." - Largolo of the Saathid Council

"Due to a lack of communcation. The Assembly has concluded the Savix'Qast Consortium is not interested in continued diplomatic relations. As they have been known to isolate themselves in the past, the Assembly will not attempt to send envoys or investigative operators as suggested in Deliberation 315136-34. Savix'Qast space is to be considered off limits until further deliberation." - Resolution 315136-34 of the Assembly of Yalon Planets
 
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Interesting premise, I'm in!
 

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The First Spore War

In the 2230s, speculation about the Savix-Qast ran rampant among Yalon Sociologists. Some supported the official state resolution of them having turned to isolate themselves, being the inferior savages they were seen as. Others however suspected the fledgling empire to have collapsed under its own ambition and succumbed to internal strife, with only a small minority suggesting a third power to be involved. This was in general determined to be a ridiculous position most often supported with the apparent fact that no empire had claimed Consortium Space. No Yalon in their right mind could perceive this as a logically valid course of action, as to them all wars are merely tools to subjugate "lesser" species "unable to mind their rightfull place in the natural order" wich of course would be below even the lowest of Yalon Males.

As any venture into space formerly claimed by the Consortium was restricted, the Yalon missed out on what would have been a valuable opportunity to strike, as the spores mycelium began to take root on the fallen colonies and pockets of resistance in the Savix-Qast homeworld Qastliani IV still existed. However the Assembly did not reconsider its resolution until after it had began settling the Oceanworlds found in Astarte and later Cknoor near the former border, and naturally expanding their seemingly uncontested claim on the surrounding star systems.

First contact of Yalon with the Spore is said to have been established in 2236, as apparently a survey mission was given special permit to investigate supposed mineral riches in the Menok system, where they ran afoul of a spore probe, alerting the slumbering plague to the Assemblies presence. Back on the homeworld, the scientists discovery sparked new discussions, especially pushed by former proponents of a "shadowy threat". Their theories however where once again dismissed, instead the Assembly passed a resolution to remind their neighbours of their claim to Menok.

Asserting these claims however did little to repel the Spores Invasion later the same year. As determined from the Assemblies Archives of that time, a fleet of about four dozen corvettes entered the Cknoor system, destroying a defense station, several mining outposts and the local spaceport with ease, but leaving the colony untouched. They had left for Astarte, when the Yalon fleet emerged from their wormhole to find a ravaged system.
In Astarte, the spore again asserted the pattern we now know to be its most basic. However this time the Yalon fleet was able to catch them red handed. Boasting comparable numers (34 Corvettes and 6 Destroyers) and superior firepower (fusion missiles, ripper autocannons and plasma accelerators), they sought to end the threat quickly and they seemed to be able to chase the enemy fleet of. However as we allways see, to underestimate the Spore, is courting death.

Though less then complete, the strategic logs of the 1st Yalon Admiral paint a vivid picture of the Battle. The Yalon Fleet had finally caught up to the enemy at around the so called Cila-Limit (defined as the distance from a given star at wich it's gravity does no longer exert meaningfull influence on the wormhole matrix, or warp field, for that matter). Anticipating his enemies to try and flee, Admiral Gobb decided to engange immediately so as to not allow his opponents to carefully calculate their escape.
The first exchanges went pretty well, with both sides losing two ships, as the Yalon spearhead slammed into the Spore Fleets rear, unloading what missiles they had brought in several massive volleys, the affect of wich however was greatly diminished by the Spore Fleets point defenses.



Afterwards, the fight turned into somewhat of a slug fest. While the Yalon had to fall back unto their plasma weapons and short range autocannons to strip the enemies considerable shields, the Spore corvettes by now well know lack of firepower left them somewhat ineffective themselves. Still, their point defenses all but neutralised enemy missles, once both fleets had closed in on each other.



When a wormhole began to form nearby, Admiral Gobb was certain they enemy would try and escape, ordering his troops to cut their escape route and inflict as much damage as possible, or keep them from reaching the wormhole entirely. From the entries we know of, it seems there was some confusion between his officers, because they did not note any enemy attempt to break through the blockade, but if anything, this seems to have assured Gobb of his success. I already conveyed what is now general knowledge about the Spore, but I have to stress, back then nobody in the galactic community could boast any experience fighting it.
When a second Spore Fleet consisting of several Destroyers emerged from the wormhole, the Abyssal Fleet was caught and, to cite a later Wacedi Newscast "Slaughtered to the slug.".



There's some debate on why the Spore did not invade further into Assembly Space, after the Abyssal Fleet was essentially wiped out, and instead was content with eradicating the small settlements within the systems it had attacked. Some speculate it had to do with the Yalons preference for oceanic planets wich are - as we now know - one of the few places relatively safe from Spore contamination and presented some kind of a barrier to its spread. The theory I myself subscribe to however is simply the fact, that the Spores means of wormhole travel may not have been able to bridge them towards more Yalon Colony worlds or even much farther then Astarte itself, as the Yalon outpost in the nearby Betria system was spared from attacks as well.

While the First Spore War certainly didn't last as long as most of the wars to follow, it had a profound impact. Not only were several of the surrounding empires made aware of the threat wich grew in their midst, but in 2239 the Wacedi Empire and the Assembly of Yalon Planets were the first to sign the "Containment Act", promising to defend each other against any further invasion from the wastes.

- Excerpt from "A history of Containment" by Ashedi Wax, former 1st Historian of the Wacedi Empire


______________________________________________


Interesting premise, I'm in!
Welcome aboard!
 

Idhrendur

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I'm loving not only your premise, but your writing style. This is a very fun, creative AAR.
 

RyuKazuha

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I'm loving not only your premise, but your writing style. This is a very fun, creative AAR.
Well, thank you.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Private Log Lieutenant Koralex - Entry 2733 - 2243.6.10


Today's the day. After to years of prep, all flocks are in position and ready to move. Since the Rak'Thalak'Nak State joined the Containment Act, we've been very busy. The Assembly rebuilt its fleet and just a few months ago reclaimed their nests on Astarte. Intel says they found a lot of dead slugs, no survivors. No hostiles either.
However they got their hands on some of the ships that'd been attacking them, all covered in some kind of stuff wich is fungoid, but not. I'm not a brain beak, but as fare as I understand, it's some kind of single celled organisms wich congregate and network to behave like a single entity. Entity, neat word, don't you think?
Anyway, the brain beaks think this stuff covering the ship is somehow controling them, interfacing with the electronics or something like that.
High Command wasn't to stoked about the recovered stuff becoming active again in the lab and starting to grow. Hear they pulled the trigger on it. Desinfection by nuke, just to be sure.

The Yalon expected the enemy to try and take out their new colony again, so the Admirals had a chat and made sure they'd be prepared. If the enemy attacks, we'll hit with force. Plan is to go for Borrbo and Qastillani, get some boots on the ground to keep the brains safe while they grab all the intel they can get. Then we adapt from their. Taking the planets is preferable, but its the intel Fleet-HQ is after most.

By the way: Have you seen a Yalon male? They look nothing like the fat slugs you know from the news. They've slender serpentine bodies, narrow but long. And they are as aggro as a beserk razor claw most of the time. The Yalon say "males are only good for sex and war", but if they are as good a f*** as they are fighting, those sluggies get real rowdy.
They're all covered in dermal plating scale mail style, with plasma-ejectors strappted to their heads. Some of those serpentine dragons from the old tales? That's them, crawling all over and spitting fire everywhere. Have been training alongside them for a couple of weeks... they put our commandos to shame really, and they're just run-of-the-mill infantry for the Assembly. Thank the winds we'll not be fighting THEM.
Their new fleet isn't to bad either. Not very big, but plasma and disruptors all over, beefy shields, with six corvettes, 3 destroyers and two cruisers to it's name.

Now we wait.





Private Log Lieutenant Koralex - Entry 2803 - 2243.10.18


An enemy fleet just attacked Hark, wich means we go live. The Wacegi have some 30 Corvettes and a few destroyers, not the newest tech but viable, or so they say. We'll see how they fare. Meanwhile the Second Viod Skulkers under Admiral Dakalenex are on route to hit Qastillani. 18 Corvettes, 8 Destroyers and 6 Cruisers, all mixed fireworks. missiles, plasma, autocannons and our lovely little energy egg shells. All shiny and tough to take down.

As i said before, the Yalon males are vicious, but they have no male psykers to speak of an their matrons won't fight. War is the language of men, they say. I'm not a male, and not a Yalon, but a psyker fluent in the language of war, so I'll be tasked to provide my fellow ground-breeders with psionic support. It's just a few hours til drop. I'll want to get some sleep.

By the way, high command decided on a name for the enemy. They call it "the Spore". Ominous, ain't it? They say it's because a spore of this stuff is all you need to get shot, plucked and served.




Private Log Lieutenant Koralex - Entry 2803 - 2244.3.25

We're clipped, big time. Don't know much about the situation in space, but our orbital support is gone. These Sporocarp Warrios are still popping up all over the place, just growing from the spore cells covering the whole damn planet. If you want some freedom of movement, you've to flame your way through. But don't you think your done just doing it one time. This plasmodium, as the brains call it, just keeps growing back to fill the gaps. If you clear a path, within two days it'll be overgrown again. Everything around here smells like ozone and burned chitin.

My Yalon compatriots are happily slaughtering about. To be honest, they even seem calm after they've spend the whole day incinerating mushrooms. As for me, I'm shaking all the time. Something about this whole Spore thing makes me want to run and hide real far away. The plasmodium everywhere, the Sporocarp warriors - basically giant mushrooms standing 2+ metres tall with tentatcles all over - growing over night wherever they please. It's getting into your head. Not to speak about the psychic drone. This constant humming at the edge of your conciousness, like trying to sleep to a generator but about five orders of magnitude more annoying. We need to get the brains we're tasked to protect to evac asap. If we don't make it, that's annoying. If they don't, all of this was just us wasting time and blasting mushrooms for fun.
 

Rotkohl

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This is excellent, intriguing premise, good writing style.

Could we get some pictures of the universe with the contamination zone, and some of the different species standing against the spore?
 

RyuKazuha

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Thanks.

I do plan on composing a report detailing the spread of the contamination and the Species affected by it for the next update. And since I found some humans, I guess I'll take their perspective in doing so. Sadly I don't get my usual free monday tomorrow, so I can't say for sure when the update is going to hit.
 

RyuKazuha

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Jake Hanson went through his notes one last time. The boardroom he stood in was big, white, brightly lit and sterile in any conceivable way. He didn't like it. It was a reflection of how the republican Commanders thought all things should be. Clear cut and clean, without any hidden parts. And virtual, of course. In reality he was standing in a dimly lit storage compartment of a shoddy prefab-shelter covered in dust on a remote 'roid in the middle of nowhere. Much more real. Much more appropriate for his report.
As he thought about hacking the boardroom to give it some character, the first auditors appeared, their avatars smoothly condensing from thin air into their likeness. Idealized of course, like everything else was. With his grey miners outfit and unkept hair, Jakes own avatar was the only speck of imperfection, rugged and stubborn like the man he represented.

High Admiral Carrigan appeared last. His avatar was as the others. Plain, perfect and lacking his trademark scar. "Well then, let's begin." Jake decided and activated the presentation. "I'm honored to be allowed to speak in front of the high Strata." he began. "As you probably all know, this meeting concerns itself with a potential menace emerging in the neighbouring spiral arm. I don't expect you to know much about the political landscape over there, so I'll try and give you the essentials as briefly as possible."



"The Wacegi are molluscoid idealists. They love other species and they hate war, that's how their gods like it. If you look for someone to star in your tentacle porn, these things are probably your best bet." Jake snickered. Not because of his admittedly bad joke, but because of the sheer amount of disgust shown by his audience. "Anyway. They're pretty passive, but far from weak. We know they use psychics to a considerable degree in their defense forces, and their diplomats are among the most accomplished in this part of the Galaxy. It was them, who brought the other two together under a defensive pact called the "Containment Act"."



"I guess you can see why the Yalon are coloquially refered to as Slugs. They're ruled by a strict martriarchy who asserts itself through some kind of genetic or psionic mechanism. Apparently the males are inherently incapable of acting against the females. By the way, that's a female. Maybe it's purely asthetic intimidation." Some light laughter from the audience. "Anyway, they hate everything not them and even among themselves they are eager to point out the differences. Their males are more snakelike and very aggressive, predominantly occupied with fighting each other, until some unifying threat arises. The so called "Spore" apparently qualified to be such a threat."



"Finally, the Rak'Thalak'Nal. Avian xenophiles with a knack for science who strive to built a democratic utopia." Jake rolled his eyes. "Their scientific track record is impressive to say the least, lots of discoveries and breakthroughs. Even a scientific theory of psionics." he added. "They might seem a bit underwhelming, but they're the most competent of the lot by a long shot. Most of the data about the spore currently available has been collected and prepared by their 'brain beaks' and they have some pretty neat tech. But I digress."

"All of these species are currently locked into a war of attrition with what they named the 'Spore', a lifeform of unknown origin wich seems to operate like some slime molds known to us. At least in principle. In it's basic form, it is a single cell organism, but if two or more are present, they start to cooperate and even meld into singular supercells. These conglomerates are able to interface with machinery or grow what the RTN call 'Sporocarb Drones', multicellular entities akin to more usual fungoids. These drones are able to do anything the plasmodial state cannot, construction tasks and the like."

The next slide showed on of the sporocarp drones, lifting a Rak'Thalak'Nak into the air. "They also seem to act as soldiers for the spore and are even known to use weapons, though they usually rely on brute force and their quite resilient nature." he explained. "All of these races rely on wormholes for their FTL-travel, making them a mobile and hard to predict force.

upload_2016-7-10_22-22-48.png


Over the last few years, the Spore has expanded considerably, wiping out another species in the process. The Savix'Qast, as far as we know themselves quite powerfull and way less... hampered by peaceloving naiivity or individualistic quarrel then their neighbours. Still, their empire was overrun by the spore within a couple of years, seemingly taken completely of guard."

He switched to the next slides, a set of starcharts. "We've mapped out both the expansion of Spore Contamination as well as awareness of the problem from the twenties of our century onwards."

"2223."
upload_2016-7-10_22-30-52.png


"2235."
upload_2016-7-10_22-32-19.png


"2242."
upload_2016-7-10_22-33-36.png


"And just last year in 2257."

upload_2016-7-10_22-39-44.png


"You may notice the rather big time gap between the last to slides, That is because these sixteen years parse the time the "Containment Act" was able to hold it's ground against the Spore. And if I say they held their ground, I mean dirt. The Spore wiped out their combined fleets within a year after the first shots where fired." There where gasps among the auditors. "They payed dearly." He added. "No less then five colonies where lost during that time. And the Rak'Thalak'Nak predict another wave of expansion in the medium term The Spore itself has adapted wormhole technology, probably from abandoned stations. Wich means the Republik isn't safe. If the Spore bridges the gap between the spiral arms, we need to be prepared. And now that you've got an overview, let's move on to the real thing..."
 

sebas379

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Those spores seem to be headed south with a vengeance. Almost as if something is drawing them there.........
 

Tapscott

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Just wanted to say keep up the good work! I'm digging the concept, and the Spore seems nasty as all hell. For a mindless (I think) slime/mould/thing.
 

RyuKazuha

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Those spores seem to be headed south with a vengeance. Almost as if something is drawing them there.........
The Wacegi are walling the east and it'll take some effort to remove the colonies they've set up around their homeworld. I doubt they'll stand the test of time, but for now there's more squishy targets to the south.

Just wanted to say keep up the good work! I'm digging the concept, and the Spore seems nasty as all hell. For a mindless (I think) slime/mould/thing.
The Spore isn't sentient, but it has some form of intelligence. We're probably going to dive into this question later on.

____________________________________________________________________________

2267 - Last Stand

Admiral Forth'lins holographic representation flickered. "We've taken Zhoblar. A retaliatory strike is on route as expected." Ster'uni, latest High Admiral of the Yalon Assembly nodded. He'd been anxiously wainting for this to happen ever since the Wacegi on the other side of this conversation had told him about the plan. It would be risky, no question about it, but if they were to beat the Spore, they'd have to give it their best shot.
Forth'lin did not seem as eager to enact the plan, as his compatriot was. "Are you sure you can do this?" he asked in earnest and probably for the twentyfitht time since they originally planned the whole operation. "The Rak-Thalak-Nak are still tied up with the Altovorrian Rebellion and the Emperor has decreed for our own forces to stay at the homeworld." Ster'uni snaked through his quarter, dismissing the Wacegis concerns with a shake of his head. "You Wacegi are allways concerned. Allways watching behind." he said. "We will be the one to strike this time. Their range will mean nothing. Just make sure they're there when we drop."

The Wacegi shrugged his tentacles. "Fine. We're counting on you. If this goes south..." "I know." The line terminated. Forth'lin felt a surge of despair flowing through him, certainly enough to be noticed by his aide. But the younger was silent. "Do you believe in miracles?" the Admiral asked. "No Sir." Forth'lin nodded. "Neither do I. I hope the Yalon are as effective as they are confident. All ships are to gather in Mendac orbit, I want to be ready for the worst."

"Wormhole stabilized. We're reading some interference. Could be another wormhole." reported the Science Officer. Ster'uni felt a sudden rush of adrenaline electrify his body. "All hands, prepare for battle. We're jumping right into their midst. I want plasma and AC on EVERYTHING as soon as we emerge."

Chaos. 2 Cruisers, 6 Destroyers and 15 Corvettes plunged into a swarm of some four dozen enemy ships. Autocannons began hammering enemy shields. A salvo of plasma discharges simply nullified one of the enemy ships existence and missiles were fired in droves. For a brief moment the Admiral relished the thought to have finally bested the Spore, suprised that silent and unrelenting enemy.

upload_2016-7-12_17-48-1.png


The Spore ships simply returned fire. There was no surprised delay, no scattering of forces, nothing to indicate the slightes impact on enemy morale. The Spore ships simply returned fire. And not only that, their lasers had risen in power considerably. "That's Rak'Thalak'Nak Technology..." The realisation hit hard. His first notion was one of treason and the rage that filled him knew no bounds. He swore vegeance for a thousand lives, towards the Spore and the Rak'Thalak'Nak, before something clicked. There had been one ship, an experimental frigate lost to the Spore more then ten years ago, equipped with the same bright green beams. His rage vaned, as realisation struck again. "They're adapting our technology..." he whispered to himself. For close to 40 year, the spore had not significantly changed. But this was different. "Communcations, open a Channel to the Wacegi and send them all the tactical data you can." he ordered. With some luck, Forth'lin would be able to learn from it. "Fleet, form up around the cruisers and prepare to break through towards Zhoblar. I expect you to make landfall there, if your ship happens to spill."

upload_2016-7-12_18-17-52.png


"Admiral Forth'lin." The Wacegi turned to face his aide. "Report." "The Yalon fleet has been destroyed." The Admirals head sank. "How long until they're here?" The Aide shook his head. "They've retreated." he said. "According to our forces on Zhoblar, the Spore fleet has sustained heavy casualties and extensive damage."
Forth'lin felt the need to laugh and cry at the same time. Hysterical laughter and joyous tears. "Are you sure?" he asked, barely keeping his composure. "Yes Sir! We've beaten them off!"
 

sebas379

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They have driven the Spores off for now and species begin cooporating. But with the Spors ever evolving, there is no telling what will happen.
 

RyuKazuha

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The Third Spore War


Even though the Rak'Thalak'Nak were occupied with a discontent vassal state warring for independence, the start of the third war finally saw the forces united by the Containment Act gain ground against the Spore.

In 2267 8 Divisions of Wacegi Psionic Commandos invaded and captured a recently contaminated planet in the Zhoblar System near the Imperial Borders, in order to contain the infection there. They met little resistance in the form of sporocarp warriors, but reported the same psychic drone first experienced by Rak'Thalak'Nak Psywarriors during their Mission on Borrbo in the Second War, though far weaker.
This lead most researchers to believe, that spore cells exert weak psychic force, wich conglomerates as they do, supposedly forming weak psychic collectives. Such mechanisms would explain several of the behaviours we noticed about the spore. There are some speculations towards the existence of a central or distributed spore overmind, but evidence is sparse at best. Of the dozen or so psionics i talked to, and who had been exposed to the Spore, not one believed their to be a conciousness, if only for the fact that the psychic drone seemed to be passive, rather then aggressively targeted. To cite Colonel Soth'on "I have no doubt that the Spores Psionic potential, if funneld into an actual aggressive act, would have crushed all our Psi-Coms without effort."

Just a few weeks after the invasion, the Spore Fleet emerged to reclaim the system, springing a trap laid by the Yalon Fleet. The battle of Zhoblar still stands as one of the greatest achievements of the Yalon efforts against the Spore. Losing all their commited vessels, they still managed to repell the attack and alledgedly inflicted considerable damage upon the enemy, a feat never seen before in almost thirty years.
The battle itself will be covered in more detail elsewhere at this point it will suffice to say it sparked hope among the weary, inspired the disheartened and would in the future often be invoked to remind people that the Spore isn't invicible. Less enthusiastic observers however would point to a far more interesting idea to take away from the battle: The Spore was not a static threat, but an evolving one, refining its technology, or at least adapting salvage.

There are claims that if the Wacegi had pushed their advantage, the war could have ended soon and with an allied victory, and this may very well be the case. But the Wacedi Navy was barely in shape to threaten defensive installations without commiting all its forces, and given what was about to happen, I highly doubt even that would've made a difference for the better.

In 2269, the retaliatory strike was delivered. But instead of Zhoblar or one of the Border Colonies, the Spore emerged in force within the Yalon Home System. Though the had rebuild some ships, they were in no position to effectively defend themselves from the onslaught. The fleet cut its way into the inner system, while even more ships poured into all of the Assemblys colonized systems.

It is hard to say exactly when the Yalon Assembly collapsed. Official pleads for military aid ceased in early 2270, probably because FTL-Communication broke down and it is to expected that they did not last to long after, though the physiology of Yalon Males in particular suggests that local resistance may have continued for several years after.
Meanwhile popular claims about boiling oceans and molten islands are to be discounted as distastefull fearmongering. For all the terror the Spore has brought, there's no evidence of it going out of its way to cause suffering and boiling an ocean would not be efficient an use of ressources, not even against the Yalon.

The final part of the war would return to Zhoblar, still held by Wacedi PsyComs. In 2272, a small fleet of transports crossed into the system and began deploying wave after wave of sporocarp warriors. Though massively outnumbered and cut of from supplies, the Psionics had had time to dig in, repelling as much as quintuble their force, before they had to yield and evacuate.

While the war had begun at high spirits, it ended in widespread disillusionment. Winning a phyrric victory would not be enough to defeat the Spore.
The Empress knew Wacedi Core Space was dangerously close to the contamination zone, and with one of their allies lost and the other less then dependable, the next war could very well spell doom to her peaceful realm.

- Excerpt from "A history of Containment" by Ashedi Wax, former 1st Historian of the Wacedi Empire
_________________________________________________________________________

Beaten them off…for now.
They have driven the Spores off for now and species begin cooporating. But with the Spors ever evolving, there is no telling what will happen.
Well, obviously a punch to the face won't send the likes of the Spore flying. :D
 
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sebas379

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Welp, now they'r royally screwed. It is clear that only a much more powerful force is capable of defeating the Spore.
 

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Despair

The towers of the imperial city spiraled up into a orange tinted sky. Dry winds whiffed through the city, chilly as they night wich just had passed it's mantle onto the new day. The planet did not know nor care about the prospects of its inhabitants that day, not that it ever had. As the Empress departed her Palace, hundreds of imperial guards lined up along the great staircase wich spiraled the palace sprange to attention.
Among them was Falath'an, newly christened Platoon Sergeant within the 1st Imperial Psionics Division. The Wacegi was disciplined enough to keep his body motionless, but his mind strayed into the eerie emptyness of the Capital. He was used to the constant whispering of Wacedi thoughts permeating every inch of it, but now it was silent and dead like a long forgotten tombworld. The Civilians had been transported off world or relegated to extensive underground bunkers for their safety, while 12 PsyCom Divisions had been tasked to hold the imperial city against the approaching Spore. For ten years, the empire had prepared for the inevitable, still Falath'an felt uneasy. A primal instinct stirred in anticipation of what was to come and a shiver went through his tense muscles.
>Focus.< The Lieutenants voice rang in his head. >Do embaress yourself and your soldiers in front of the empress.< Falath'an complied, steeling his resolve and keeping his thoughts empty, as the holy maiden passed them. Moving slowly, every Wacegi attending was allowed a glimpse at her divine self. Her endless compassion, boundless love for all things living and overwhelming hope gave Falath'an the strenght he knew he would need to do what was asked of him. He loved her dearly, as did all other wacegi. She was mother-sister-daughter in spirit to all of her kind. To see her leave her holy seat under such circumstance what nearly to much to bear.
Falath'an kept his emotions to himself. Beyond his primal fear there was something far darker. Something the empress' light was allways meant to cleanse from them. Every Wacegi knew anger and how to deal with it, but beyond anger, there was the pervasive force that was hatred. A well of great power bent on destruction. Whomever thought to control it, was already lost to his allure. Falath'an would not make himself believe he could control it, but he would not hesitate t use it either. If the Empire was to survive, sullying himself with such darkness would be a small price to pay.

Flashes of bright green cut the sky, slamming into the cities shields. The PsyCom-Divisions had scattered through the extensive network of streets and buildings each platoon setting up its own position. Falath'an and his unit took residence within a narrow building barely three stories high and adjacent to one of the great circusses to wich most of the roads connected.
Bombardment had started a few days earlier, as the Spore Fleet wrestled control over the planets orbit from the defense station and what meager rest of the fleet had remained there, incapable of leaving it due to damage retained during the battle of Fijin and thus turned into improvised stationary defenses. According to the seers, a new sporan fleet capable of deploying ground troops had entered the system not long ago and would get into position within just a few hours.
"Sarge." one of his soldiers adressed him. "What is it?" he asked back. "You've been brooding ever since the Empress left. Are you all right?" Falath'an eyed the young Wacedi accross the room. He was a gifted telekinetic, but without telepathic ability to speak of. "I'm fine." he lied, adding "Just a bit tense. Get some rest, you'll miss it soon enough." and dismissing the Soldier with a gesture.
>He is right, you are brooding.< his Lieutenants voice commented within his head. >I need you in peak condition.< Falath'an lowered his eyes to look at his hands. >I'll be there once they come.< he answered. >I'll be there like you've never seen me before.< he swore. The Lieutenant, sitting a story higher to keep watch, grew concerned. >You're walking a dangerous path.< he suggested. Fathan'an rose to his feet, stretching his tentacles. >I know. Would you rather have me running scared?< >No.< >Then let me be. I'll gladly take judgement once this is done.<

"Lieutenant, may I ask you something about the Seargent?" Lieutenant Or'indo turned one of his eyes towards the soldier who had adressed him. "Private Ru'dani." The other Wacegi was quite young, very promising but as green as a PsyCom could be. "You may ask." The other of the Lieutenants Eyes were still on the Cities border and the roads leading towards the square. Right now, the shield was still holding, but telepathic reports confirmed enemy landing operations allready underway outside the urban areas. Central Command had diverted several Divisions of mobile infantry and local militia to deal with those incursions.
"I know Falath'an was allready in PsyCom ten years ago. I heard he was there on Zhoblar. Still he just made Sergeant recently. I wonder why that is." the Private said. The Lieutenant frowned, shifted his position to sit more comfortably and sighed. "The short answer is discipline." he began. "The long answer is somewhat more protracted. Your Sergeant is an incredbly gifted Psyker, the feats of whom would make many of higher rank blush in shame. But the fight of Zhoblar left him scarred. He was put off duty after his return to receive treatment of his mental injuries and got reinstated two months ago." The others eyes sank, looking at the floor. "So he got better, just to fight them again?" he asked. The lieutenant felt bitterness creep up his throat. "No son. He got back, just to fight them again." he said, "Listen, Ru'dani. When they come, you and your mates do your best to cover him. Don't get in his way, don't try to hold him back, just cover him and hold your position until he or I tell you otherwise. If we get through this, you'll know enough for me to tell you everything I know, for now, don't overthink it. Stick to your training and make the best of this mess." He felt the tension building in his Soldier and shared some of his own mental calm with him to alleviate it. "I see." the young Wacegi replied. "And I think I understand now. Thank you."

When they came, Falath'an walked out unto the plaza, covered in psionic barriers created by his platoon, just as the Lieutenant had instructed them two, linked to one of the platoons seers who overlooked the whole of the plaza from the third floor of their shelter, so as to see everything around him. Sporocarp Warriors were advancing, not to fast, but at a steady pace, filling the plaza from the west.
He could hear the psychic drone accompanying them. As the first bolts of plasma fired from thei tentacle mounted blasters where deflected by the barriers, Falath'an closed his eyes. Deepening his concentration he peeled away layer after layer of psychic barriers placed in the last ten years, unleashing the darkness he had fought so long to contain. Psionic Energy soared through his every muscle and fiber, as rage blew away any last trace of fear and doubt. They had killed hundreds of millions. They felt no remorse, no mercy, no communion. They did not feel attached to anything. They were nothing but biological machines. >Let go.< he thought. That one phrase every psionic was taught early on. To let go of what kept him bound and dive into the flow of the energies permeating every layer of reality, becoming a symbiotic one with it and gain the ability to manipulate it.
He let go. Hatred filling his every being as surges of black energy emmenated from his body. As he opened his eyes, the Sporocarp warrior he looked upon was torn to shreds. A flick of his right tentacle wiped out two dozen of them at once as he slowly rose into the sky, summoning lighting currents powerfull enough to rip their targets apart at the molecular level. Tides of psionic power raging around him, shattering the plaza beneath, turning the air into a roaring malstroem and incerating ever more of the Sporocarp Warriors who tried to attack.

He did not notice neither the awe nor the terror his display struck into the hearts of his platoon, the members of wich where still covering him from enemy fire as best as they could. Nor the unnumbered pods dotting the sky as ever more of the Spore Warriors made their way onto the planted. One of those Capsules even seemed to aim to hit him itself, but was blown to smithereens without apparent effort.

In the end, despite the unbelievable power unleashed by Falath'an and many of his compatriots, they were still just mortals. As the relentless assault went on for hours, days, and finally months, even though his rage knew no end, his body would not withstand the strain. At first, his plattoons psychic healer would try and contain the damage, but as he tired, Falath'an tore himself apart as he did his enemies, albeit it took many days until his raging storm suddenly collapsed in on itself, as its creator crashed into the plaza below, mangled beyond recognition.

It was the year 2285 and the heart of the Wacegi Empire had fallen.